I knit my first pair of Macro Mitts by Lauren Osborne years ago, and they are my most-worn mittens every winter. Every time my friend Emily saw them, she’d make it very clear how much she wanted her own pair. It’s not as if she couldn’t just knit them herself, but I’d always said that I would make her a pair, though I never got around to it.
But just a week ago, Emily announced she’s moving across the country, from Queens to San Diego. And even though she will have limited times to wear them in San Diego, I knew I had to knit her a pair as a going away present. Of course, we were having dinner on Saturday night and I had this brilliant idea Friday afternoon. But we had nothing but a marathon of Justified Season 4 on the docket so I managed it!
I even knit all 4 Latvian Braids. (I omitted the top ones on my own pair, because I detest knitting those braids!) If that doesn’t show how important this gift was, I don’t know what does.
Another cousin is expecting a baby! This time, I decided I’d do something other than the basic Child’s Placket-Neck Pullover that I like so much. But when you research baby sweaters on Ravelry they’re just all so much the same. I favorited several but ultimately I chose Ysolda’s Wee Envelope precisely because it’s completely different from all the others.
For this you start with one sleeve, work across the front yoke, then knit the back yoke, then the other sleeve. At the end you pick up stitches and work the body. It just seemed so much more interesting to knit. I had a decent amount of Malabrigo Arroyo from my Spinster Slouch leftover, and I was able to get close to gauge and a nice fabric on size 6 needles. (I swear I’m not a tight knitter, despite the drastic difference in needle size from the pattern!) I debated what size to knit, since the little one is due in November—and he’ll live in Georgia—so I had to match up my best guess on the kid’s size (his parents are both very tall) with what the weather will be like plus how warm this sweater would actually be . . . so I knit the 3-6 month size. It looks impossibly tiny to me, but I don’t know babies, so I figure he’ll fit into it at some time.
As I’d hoped, this was an interesting knit. It’s not mindless like the Placket Neck would be, and there was some weirdness (you need to pick up across the front yoke, but there’s an I-cord edge there! How do you pick up for that?! The blog post to explain doesn’t address this at all, so I just fudged it, which I have to remind myself is totally the point of being the boss of your knitting), but there were nice long stretches where you didn’t have to think at all. I suspected I wasn’t really going to want/need 2 buttons on each side (I basically hate dealing with buttons) but since I didn’t know the pattern—and there’s no actual schematic included—I just followed the directions rather than try to make modifications on the fly. In the end, though, the whole thing seemed so small that I just seamed the buttonholes shut. I am not sure that the parents would’ve even noticed the holes, but just in case, I made them go away. If I made the sweater in a bigger size I might include them, but future wee Wee Envelopes are more than likely going to be buttonless from me.
This definitely won’t be the last Wee Envelope I make: cute, fast (knit it in just 2 days), and the pattern includes a huge range of sizes. Yay for a new go-to pattern!
Andy Goldsworthy’s art piece Wood Line inspired me to post a picture to Instagram with the caption “sinuous.” The Spinster Slouch by my friend Val is also most aptly described with that word. I love the way the ribbing seems to dart this way and that on the hat—achieved by crossing 9 stitches at a time.
I grabbed this yarn—Malabrigo Arroyo in Regatta Blue—and cast on for the hat when I was on my way to the movies one Saturday. I worked on the ribbing on the subway and before the movie started, and then it was my go-to project for the week. The following Saturday I cast off, a finished hat in hand. I worked the cable crossings 4 times because I didn’t read the pattern closely enough and worked the first crossing too soon, and then I wanted the ribbing to be back to normal before I decreased for the crown (this would make sense if you were knitting it). Also with this yarn and needle combo (size 5 needles), it needed that extra length. I wanted a toque more than a slouch in any case, and my yarn was not nearly as drapey as the luxury blend of silk and yak that Val used in the original.
The hat proved quite useful on a trip to San Francisco, where despite the May date it was frigid at times (note my wool coat!), and particularly on this morning at the Presidio to visit Goldsworthy’s art pieces. (He has 3 others in the park; one was closed to the public because it was a weekday and we hadn’t called ahead, but the other two were easy to see.) Photos were taken by my old friend and professional photographer Andrea Ismert, who I got to spend the day with!
Maggie told me to make it, so I did. She’s never led me astray before, and I’m so pleased with the results of letting her boss me around!
She specifically said to make a Plantain Tee (free with newsletter sign up!) in a bamboo jersey. When I was at Mood shopping for fabric for a dress to wear to a wedding, I stumbled upon the bamboo jersey section. When I got a staff member to cut the dress fabric for me I spontaneously said, “and let’s add a yard of something from over here… how about that one,” picking a color somewhat blindly. Yes, it’s in the teal family—what else? I gravitate to that color when I’m looking for color, what can I say.
Turns out to make the Plantain in any sleeve length but short you actually need more than a yard, but I didn’t know that, so I’m glad I only wanted short sleeves anyway right now! I cut the pieces out using the pattern pieces for the size 40 in the bust and the 42 for the hips, just grading it out as smoothly and evenly as I could. The bamboo was kind of slippery and quite stretchy, so getting the fabric set for cutting was somewhat stressful, but it seems to have gone well enough.
I used my serger to sew all the seams, and that went very smoothly. I didn’t topstitch the collar because the seam sat flat, and I don’t really have the best tools for topstitching. That’s why I had major issues with the hemming: turns out I am kind of terrible at hemming. When I made my Union St. Tee, I did a zigzag for the hems, and it came out great with no effort at all. So I guess I thought it would always be that simple. I secured all the hems on this Plantain with the zigzag, and wow it looked like utter crap. I sent Maggie a photo and she suggested it might “block out,” to use a knitter’s parlance, but I really thought I just did a bad job. So I picked out all of the hems and redid them, using just a long straight stitch, my walking foot, and extra care to not stretch the fabric AT ALL. The extra time to pick out the stitching was frustrating but definitely worth it, because the hems are drastically improved.
In the end, it’s pretty successful! It’s amazingly comfy, I think the deep scoop is flattering but not too revealing, and I definitely will want ones in other sleeve lengths. (I’m not sure about the elbow patches—looks cute, yes, but I fear my skills in sewing them down will just make them look like I hurriedly covered actual holes or something.) I don’t exactly know what’s happening on the back in that photo—it looks like it’s pulling in odd ways? But then, we’d just gone up and down a ton of stairs and were sweaty and maybe that was affecting it. Jason says it looked pretty normal when not frozen in a photo.
I wore it today as we explored the Sutro Baths and Land’s End in San Francisco. I’m a loyal (obsessed?) listener of 99% Invisible, so I’d heard the episode about the Sutro Baths. I honestly thought, from the podcast, that they would be remote, requiring some effort to find, and you’d not really be able to walk all over them—but I was very wrong. They’re part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (“Sutro District”), so there’s an info center and free bathrooms, and paths all around. Sure, it’s on the far western edge of the city, but we just hopped on the 38 R bus down Geary and it took us right to them! The ruins are on the edge of Land’s End, which has paths leading to amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a fun place to visit on our first day of a trip to SF.
—but that doesn’t mean I’m not wearing them as I type this.
I learned a lot from making these shorts, not least of which is that my current body measurements are not in proportion to what a pattern writer assumes. The finished shorts are too tight across my hips and yet kind of loose at the waist; since when did I become pear-shaped? Anyway, I know how I could tweak these for the future, I suppose, and they fit well enough for wearing around the house—which was their original intent anyway.
The pattern is Purl Soho’s free City Gym Shorts, and I used a quilting cotton that I bought a few yards of a long time ago because I just love it. I still have enough to use as the backing for a baby-size quilt in the future. The binding and waist are in two different shades of blue Kona cotton, actually—both from fat quarters in my stash. I didn’t have the called-for 1-inch elastic, but I have a bunch of 1/2-inch elastic, so the waistband is a little weird (I didn’t change its depth to match the elastic), but whatever.
I also learned how annoying making double-fold bias binding without the little device is. I made a lot of length of it, and folding the sides over and ironing it down was so tedious. Next trip for sewing supplies will involve one of those bias tape makers.
The pattern doesn’t match across the fronts or the backs, because I paid no heed to making sure that would happen (cut each piece on doubled fabric, so who knew what the lower layer looked like)? Somehow I didn’t think about how that would end up looking when I started cutting. I would pay attention to that in the future for sure.
It was interesting to follow the steps of making a pair of shorts like this—each seam is so simple and obvious, but I feel as though I would not have figured it out on my own without the pattern’s guidance. I like the style, and if these fit I’d be quite pleased to wear them out of the house. I could use some actual gym shorts for when I finally recommit to going. Maybe in time my measurements will start to match patterns more if I do!